JUST IN: Study Affirms Jet Stream and Ocean Currents Cause of Sea Ice Differences at Earth’s Poles

Why has the sea ice cover surrounding Antarctica been increasing slightly, in sharp contrast to the drastic loss of sea ice occurring in the Arctic Ocean? A new NASA-led study finds the geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is responsible. A team led by Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used satellite radar, sea surface temperature, landform and bathymetry (ocean depth) data to study the physical processes and properties affecting Antarctic sea ice.

antarctica_ice_sheet

They found that two persistent geological factors, the topography of Antarctica and the depth of the ocean surrounding it are influencing winds and ocean currents, respectively, to drive the formation and evolution of Antarctica’s sea ice cover and help sustain it.

Equation:
Sunspots → Solar Flares (charged particles) → Magnetic Field Shift → Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents → Extreme Weather and Human Disruption (mitch battros 1998).

equation2_1998

“Our study provides strong evidence that the behavior of Antarctic sea ice is entirely consistent with the geophysical characteristics found in the southern polar region, which differ sharply from those present in the Arctic,” said Nghiem. Antarctic sea ice cover is dominated by first-year (seasonal) sea ice. Each year, the sea ice reaches its maximum extent around the frozen continent in September and retreats to about 17 percent of that extent in February. Since the late 1970s, its extent has been relatively stable, increasing just slightly; however, regional differences are observed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over the years, scientists have floated various hypotheses to explain the behavior of Antarctic sea ice, particularly in light of observed global temperature increases. Examples are: “changes in the ozone hole involved?” – “Could fresh meltwater from Antarctic ice shelves be making the ocean surface less salty” – “Are increases in the strength of Antarctic winds causing the ice to thicken.” Unfortunately, a definitive answer has remained elusive.

Nghiem and his team came up with a novel approach. They analyzed radar data from NASA’s QuikScat satellite from 1999 to 2009 to trace the paths of Antarctic sea ice movements and map its different types. They focused on the 2008 growth season, a year of exceptional seasonal variability in Antarctic sea ice coverage.

To address the question of how the Southern Ocean maintains this great sea ice shield, the team combined sea surface temperature data from multiple satellites with a recently available bathymetric chart of the depth of the world’s oceans. They found the temperature line corresponds with the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current front, a boundary that separates the circulation of cold and warm waters around Antarctica. The team theorized that the location of this front follows the underwater bathymetry.

QuikScat satellite

When they plotted the bathymetric data against the ocean temperatures, the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Pronounced seafloor features strongly guide the ocean current and correspond closely with observed regional Antarctic sea ice patterns.

Study results are published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment. Other participating institutions include the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering at UCLA; the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle; and the U.S. National/Naval Ice Center, NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Additional funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

Record High Temperatures…Or Are They? Let’s Blame El Nino

Thanks to a combination of global warming and an El Nino, the planet shattered monthly heat records for an unprecedented 12th straight month, as April smashed the old record by half a degree, according to federal scientists.

equation2_1998

And exactly what is El Nino? Science calls it the Southern Pacific Oscillation (ENSO). In English it simply means “shifting ocean and jet currents.” And what is the cause of this shifting? It is “charged particles” coming from above and below. This is to say from solar winds, and various plasma burst from celestial orbs.

Equation:
Sunspots → Solar Flares (charged particles) → Magnetic Field Shift → Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents → Extreme Weather and Human Disruption (mitch battros 1998).

highest Temperatures by State3

ENLARGE

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monthly climate calculation said Earth’s average temperature in April was 56.7 degrees (13.7 degrees Celsius). That’s 2 degrees (1. 1 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average and well past the old record set in 2010. The Southern Hemisphere led the way, with Africa, South America and Asia all having their warmest Aprils on record, NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo said. NASA was among other organizations that said April was the hottest on record.

The last month that wasn’t record hot was April 2015. The last month Earth wasn’t hotter than the 20th-century average was December 1984, and the last time Earth set a monthly cold record was almost a hundred years ago, in December 1916, according to NOAA records.

At NOAA’s climate monitoring headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina, “we are feeling like broken records stating the same thing” each month, Sanchez-Lugo said.

And more heat meant record low snow for the Northern Hemisphere in April, according to NOAA and the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. Snow coverage in April was 890,000 square miles below the 30-year average.

Sanchez-Lugo and other scientists say ever-increasing man-made global warming is pushing temperatures higher, and the weather oscillation El Nino—a warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide—makes it even hotter.

The current El Nino, which is fading, is one of the strongest on records and is about as strong as the 1997-1998 El Nino. But 2016 so far is 0.81 degrees (0.45 degrees Celsius) warmer than 1998 so “you can definitely see that climate change has an impact,” Sanchez-Lugo said.

Given that each month this year has been record hot, it is not surprising that the average of the first four months of 2016 were 2.05 degrees (1.14 degrees Celsius) higher than the 20th-century average and beat last year’s record by 0.54 degrees (0.3 degrees Celsius).

Last year was the hottest year by far, beating out 2014, which also was a record. But 2016’s start “is unprecedented basically” and in general half a degree warmer than 2015, Sanchez-Lugo said.

Even though El Nino is fading and its cooler flip side La Nina is forecast to take hold later this year, Sanchez-Lugo predicted that 2016 will end up the hottest year on record for the third straight year. That’s because there’s a lag time for those changes to show up in global temperatures and because 2016 has started off so much hotter than 2015, she said.

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Clues to Ancient Giant Asteroid Found in Australia

Scientists have found evidence of a huge asteroid that struck the Earth early in its life with an impact larger than anything humans have experienced. Tiny glass beads called spherules, found in north-western Australia were formed from vaporized material from the asteroid impact, said Dr Andrew Glikson from The Australian National University (ANU).

astereoid-hit22

“The impact would have triggered earthquakes orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial earthquakes, it would have caused huge tsunamis and would have made cliffs crumble,” said Dr Glikson, from the ANU Planetary Institute.

The asteroid is the second oldest known to have hit the Earth and one of the largest.

glass rock austraila

Dr Glikson said the asteroid would have been 20 to 30 kilometers across and would have created a crater hundreds of kilometers wide.

About 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago the moon was struck by numerous asteroids, which formed the craters, called mare, that are still visible from Earth

“Exactly where this asteroid struck the earth remains a mystery,” Dr Glikson said.

“Any craters from this time on Earth’s surface have been obliterated by volcanic activity and tectonic movements.”

Dr Glikson and Dr Arthur Hickman from Geological Survey of Western Australia found the glass beads in a drill core from Marble Bar, in north-western Australia, in some of the oldest known sediments on Earth.

The sediment layer, which was originally on the ocean floor, was preserved between two volcanic layers, which enabled very precise dating of its origin.

Dr Glikson has been searching for evidence of ancient impacts for more than 20 years and immediately suspected the glass beads originated from an asteroid strike.

Subsequent testing found the levels of elements such as platinum, nickel and chromium matched those in asteroids. There may have been many more similar impacts, for which the evidence has not been found, said Dr Glikson.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve only found evidence for 17 impacts older than 2.5 billion years, but there could have been hundreds”

“Asteroid strikes this big result in major tectonic shifts and extensive magma flows. They could have significantly affected the way the Earth evolved.”

First Ever Direct Analysis of Magnetic Loop Reconnect

In a paper published on May 12th 2016 in the scientific journal Science, a research team that includes a West Virginia University physicist helped shed light on the process of magnetic reconnection — which occurs when magnetic fields, such as those around the planet, break and reconnect. The paper details discoveries from NASA’s unprecedented Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission that launched four identical spacecraft into Earth’s magnetic shield to measure reconnection.

Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft2

On Oct. 16, 2015, MMS flew through the heart of a reconnection region, and scientists were able to perform the first-ever physics experiment in that environment. It is the first time that researchers have detected the exact point of reconnection.

Scientists are making new discoveries about a process that causes some of the most explosive events in the universe. At the same time, they are answering questions about Earth’s magnetosphere — the protective bubble around Earth that shields the planet from the Sun’s constant barrage of superheated, electrically charged particles.

electrically charged particles

The satellites directly measured the energy being converted during reconnection; it produced heat at a rate comparable to 10 million 200-watt solar panels. They also directly measured the mixing of charged particles from outside and inside the magnetic bubble, confirming that reconnection had occurred.

“Magnetic reconnection leads to events like solar flares and auroral displays so it is easy to see its aftereffects, but scientists have never been able to directly observe the point where it occurs until now,” says Paul Cassak, associate professor of physics in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and co-author of the paper. “The tiny sizes involved and the extreme speed of the reconnection process make it difficult to study.”

Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft

Up until MMS, scientists were unable to measure the smallest scales of reconnection because it was impossible to process data fast enough to determine what was occurring. With this mission, instruments were able to record data 100 times faster than ever before, fast enough to see where magnetic fields break.

Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft2

“The amount of data collected and the speed at which it was collected is remarkable,” says Cassak, whose role on the project was developing numerical simulations to help scientists understand what happens in the region where reconnection occurs. “Nobody thought the mission would be this successful this soon.”

As part of the MMS Theory and Modeling team, Cassak used MMS observations and sophisticated computer simulations to analyze how magnetic fields reconnect around Earth.

Along with the research team, Cassak determined the properties in the reconnection region. He ran a simulation using a supercomputer operated by the Department of Energy that put the observed results in a two-dimensional context, as opposed to the one-dimensional data that comes from the satellites.

The simulations produced a large amount of data — almost a third of a terabyte — and would have taken almost a year and a half to do on a single computer.

The simulation ultimately illustrates how magnetic reconnection happens. One goal of this type of research is to help space weather scientists predict how the magnetosphere will behave so that appropriate preparations can be made.

“Learning what causes magnetic fields to break has significant, fundamental implications for scientists because it is very difficult to resolve these types of scales, even in the lab,” says Cassak. “If scientists are able to use MMS to understand what is happening at small scales in the magnetosphere, they can apply this knowledge to other settings where reconnection is important, from space weather to fusion applications in the laboratory.”

Cassak says that the mission is still very young and there is much more to observe. MMS’s orbit will continue to focus on the day-side of Earth for another six months. Then, the orbit will be changed and it will focus on the night-side with the hopes that the spacecraft will encounter another reconnection region. Scientists expect the reconnection process to look different on the night-side, and hope to understand what drives events that cause auroral displays.

Cassak’s work is the latest groundbreaking research to come from WVU’s physics and astronomy department. Among other discoveries, WVU researchers were part of teams that recently detected gravitational waves for the first time and discovered that fast radio bursts are found to repeat.

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: Earth’s Magnetic Field Continues Decline in Strength and Increase Rate of Movement

Presented at this week’s Living Planet Symposium, new results from the constellation of Swarm satellites show where our protective field is weakening and strengthening, and importantly how fast these changes are taking place.

magnetic field weakening

The Earth’s magnetic north pole is drifting from northern Canada towards Siberia with a presently accelerating rate of 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) per year at the beginning of the 20th century, up to 40 kilometers (25 mi) per year in 2003 – and since then has only accelerated. “At this rate it will exit North America and reach Siberia in a few decades, says scientist Larry Newitt of the Geological Survey of Canada.

magnetic field reversal

In addition, the magnetic north pole is wandering east, towards Asia. The current rate of change (since 1840) is about 0.07 degrees per year. But between 1225 and about 1550 AD, rates averaged closer to 0.12 degrees per year – significantly faster than expected.

VIDEO: Changes in Strength
of Earth’s Magnetic Field

magnetic field weakening3

Based on results from ESA’s Swarm mission, the animation shows how the strength of Earth’s magnetic field has changed between 1999 and mid-2016. Blue depicts where the field is weak and red shows regions where the field is strong. The field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has grown about 2% stronger over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest field – the South Atlantic Anomaly – has moved steadily westward and further weakened by about 2%. In addition, the magnetic north pole is wandering east.

cosmic_rays_earth's_core_climate_cycle_lg

With more than two years of measurements by ESA’s Swarm satellite trio, changes in the strength of Earth’s magnetic field are being mapped in detail. It is clear that ESA’s innovative Swarm mission is providing new insights into our changing magnetic field. Further results are expected to lead to new information on many natural processes, from those occurring deep inside the planet to weather in space caused by solar activity.

Swarm_constellation

Launched at the end of 2013, Swarm is measuring and untangling the different magnetic signals from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere – an undertaking that will take several years to complete.

Although invisible, the magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable effects on our everyday lives.

The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and electrically charged atomic particles that bombard Earth in solar winds. However, it is in a permanent state of flux.

The magnetic field is thought to be produced largely by an ocean of molten, swirling liquid iron that makes up our planet’s outer core, 3000 km under our feet. Acting like the spinning conductor in a bicycle dynamo, it generates electrical currents and thus the continuously changing electromagnetic field.

It is thought that accelerations in field strength are related to changes in how this liquid iron flows and oscillates in the outer core.

Chris Finlay, senior scientist at DTU Space in Denmark, said, “Unexpectedly, we are finding rapid localized field changes that seem to be a result of accelerations of liquid metal flowing within the core.”

Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, added, “Two and a half years after the mission was launched it is great to see that Swarm is mapping the magnetic field and its variations with phenomenal precision.

“The quality of the data is truly excellent, and this paves the way for a profusion of scientific applications as the data continue to be exploited.”

In turn, this information will certainly yield a better understanding of why the magnetic field is weakening in some places, and globally.

BREAKING NEWS: New Study Shows Mantle Plume Movement Occurs More Rapidly Affecting Oceans and Climate

Still more confirmation of Battros 2012 equation identifying mantle plumes role in Earth’s core convection process. This new study also confirms mantle’s effect on ocean warming and specifically “ice caps.” This throws a hefty monkey-wrench into advocates of the 1988 made-up name global warming. I will attach my previous articles highlighting the connection to cyclical events occurring in our backyard “Milky Way” and our neighboring galaxies.

equation-mantle plumes

New Equation:
Increase Charged Particles → Decreased Magnetic Field → Increase Outer Core Convection → Increase of Mantle Plumes → Increase in Earthquake and Volcanoes → Cools Mantle and Outer Core → Return of Outer Core Convection (Mitch Battros – July 2012)

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Researchers have compiled the first global set of observations of the movement of the Earth’s mantle, the 3000-kilometer thick layer of hot silicate rocks between the crust and the core, and have found that it looks very different to predictions made by geologists over the past 30  a years.

galaxy-sun-earth3_m

The team, from the University of Cambridge, used more than 2000 measurements taken from the world’s oceans in order to peer beneath the Earth’s crust and observe the chaotic nature of mantle flow. These movements have a huge influence on the way Earth looks today related to mountain formation, volcanic activity and earthquakes.

inside earth1

The result of this new research is now published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Significant ramifications across many disciplines including the study of oceanic circulation and past climate change are now made manifest creating a bit of a shake-up in the global warming world.

The inventory of more than 2000 spot observations was determined by analyzing seismic surveys of the world’s oceans. By examining variations in the depth of the ocean floor, the researchers were able to construct a global database of the mantle’s movements.

subsea-volcanoes-110712-02

“These results will have wider reaching implications,” said Hoggard. “Considering the surface is moving much faster than we had previously thought, it could also affect things like the stability of ice caps and help us to understand past climate change.”

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Comet Craters: Literal Melting Pots For Life On Earth

Geochemists from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Natural Sciences may have found a solution to a long-debated problem as to where — and how — life first formed on Earth.

crater

In a paper just published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the team proposes that large meteorite and comet impacts into the sea created structures that provided conditions favourable for life. Water then interacted with impact-heated rock to enable synthesis of complex organic molecules, and the enclosed crater itself was a microhabitat within which life could flourish.

It has long been suggested that the meteoritic and cometary material that bombarded the early Earth delivered the raw materials — complex organic molecules, such as glycine, β-alanine, γ-amino-n-butyric acid, and water — and the energy that was required for synthesis. The Trinity group’s work has provided the new hypothesis that impact craters were ideal environments to facilitate the reactions that saw the first ‘seeds of life’ take root.

First author Edel O’Sullivan, now a PhD candidate in Switzerland, said: “Previous studies investigating the origin of life have focused on synthesis in hydrothermal environments. Today these are found at mid-ocean ridges — hallmark features of plate tectonics, which likely did not exist on the early Earth. By contrast, the findings of this new study suggest that extensive hydrothermal systems operated in an enclosed impact crater at Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.”

The research was part of a wider project funded by Science Foundation Ireland and led by senior author, Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Trinity, Balz Kamber.

Although no very ancient terrestrial impact structures are preserved, the Sudbury basin provides a unique opportunity to study the sediment that filled the basin as a guide to what the earlier impact craters would have looked like. The Sudbury structure is distinctive among the known terrestrial impact craters. It has an unusually thick (nearly 2.5 km) basin fill, and much of this is almost black in colour (due to carbon) containing also hydrothermal metal deposits.

Professor Kamber said: “Due to later tectonic forces, all the rocks of the once ~200 km-wide structure are now exposed at the surface rather than being buried. This makes it possible to take a traverse from the shocked footwall through the melt sheet and then across the entire basin fill. To a geologist, this is like a time journey from the impact event through its aftermath.”

Representative samples across the basin fill were analysed for their chemistry and for carbon isotopes, and they revealed an interesting sequence of events.

The first thing that became evident was that the crater was filled with seawater at an early stage, and remained sub-marine throughout deposition. Importantly, the water in the basin was isolated from the open ocean for long enough to deposit more than 1.5 km of volcanic rock and sediment. The lower fill is made up of rocks that formed when the water entered the crater whose floor was covered by hot impact melt. Fuel-coolant reactions deposited volcanic rocks and promoted hydrothermal activity. Above these deposits, reduced carbon starts to appear within the basin fill and the volcanic products become more basaltic.

Previously the puzzling presence of carbon in these rocks was explained by washing in from outside the crater basin. However, the new data show that it was microbial life within the crater basin that was responsible for the build-up of carbon and also for the depletion in vital nutrients, such as sulphate.

“There is clear evidence for exhaustion of molybdenum in the water column, and this strongly indicates a closed environment, shut off from the surrounding ocean,” added Edel O’Sullivan.

Only after the crater walls eventually collapsed did the study show replenishment of nutrients from the surrounding sea. These sub-marine, isolated impact basins, which experienced basaltic volcanism and were equipped with their own hydrothermal systems, thus present a new pathway to synthesis and concentration of the stepping stones to life.